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Legitimate Rape

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"Legitimate Rape"
SVU, Episode 14.18
Production number: 14018
First aired: 27 March 2013
  th of 366 produced in SVU  
th of 366 released in SVU
  th of 1106 released in all  
Written By
Kevin Fox & Peter Blauner

Directed By
Jonathan Herron

When a sports reporter accuses her cameraman of rape, the case becomes more complicated when she learns she is pregnant.


A popular sports reporter seeks out Detective Benson to accuse a cameraman of rape and stalking. The SVU squad and A.D.A. Barba begin their preparations for a difficult trial when the victim learns she is pregnant as result of the rape. As the case proceeds, the defense uses controversial tactics in its efforts to persuade the jury.


When well-known sports reporter Avery Jordan meets with Olivia at a restaurant, she reveals that she was sexually assaulted by a coworker in her home a month ago, but was too busy to report it right away. She didn't want to meet at the station because it would attract too much attention.

Their conversation is cut short when Avery is recognized by fans who want to take a picture with her and Olivia hands her her card so they can talk later. When Avery arrives to her apartment, she sees an envelope outside of her door which include photos of her meeting with Olivia and of her having sex with a guy with the words "Watching You" written on them which frightens her.

The next day, Avery talks to Nick and Olivia about the photos and says that her cameraman, Richard "Rick" Purcell is stalking her and that he raped her a month ago after dropping her off at her apartment after a tour. She went to see a doctor and was checked for STDs which Olivia & Nick point out that the doctor's report will be helpful in building a case against Purcell. The SVU squad discovers that Purcell studied law, but never took the bar.

When Fin and Rollins question Purcell, he claims the sex was consensual and Avery is probably worried because a network anchor she is seeing might have found out. Avery reveals that she seeing a co-anchor named Jason Hollis who is married and doesn't want it made public.

When Rollins and Fin talk to Jason, he tells them that Purcell is blackmailing him too. Later, A.D.A Barba shows Avery a video of her having sex with Jason in a hotel room with a camera hidden in a room which was anonymously sent to Jason 2 weeks ago.

Olivia and Barba convince Avery to press charges against Purcell and he is arrested. When Olivia informs Avery about the news, Avery appears to be ill and Olivia asks her if she got a pregnancy test done which she hasn't. Avery then realizes that she is late and breaks down, saying that she can't be pregnant with Purcell's child.

Later on, Avery is shown walking up the courthouse stairs with Olivia and is well into her pregnancy. In court, Olivia, Nick, Rollins and Fin all testify to what they discovered about Purcell during the investigation.

Barba tells Rollins and Fin to convince Jason to testify in court. At first, Jason is reluctant, but eventually agrees to. The next day in court as Barba is questioning Jason on the stand, Purcell asks the judge if he can approach. The judge calls for a recess and tells the counselors into her chambers. While in the judge's chambers, Purcell tells the judge that his lawyer is not doing a good job of defending him and wants to defend himself.

The judge allows Purcell to represent himself which upsets Avery when Barba tells her. While in court, as Purcell cross-examines Jason, he makes sound as if Avery only slept with Jason because it helped her career. When Purcell questions Olivia on the stand, he asks why Avery decided to keep her baby of the person who sexually assaulted her and asks her if she has ever seen anything like this in her career. Olivia replies that it has been known to happen.

As Barba questions Avery on the stand, he asks her why she decided to keep the baby. Avery states that she was told by doctors that she couldn't get pregnant and when she found out about her pregnancy, she wanted to terminate it, but then eventually realized that the baby was a part of her.

After the judge ends court for the day, Barba tells Rollins and Fin that Purcell's next witness will be Congressman Fritz Showalter who is an obstetrician and Rollins recalls that Showalter started a campaign against abortion of rape victims a few ago, claiming that it was destruction of evidence. Barba tells them to dig up some information on him before the next hearing.

The next day, Barba is able to discredit Congressman Showalter thanks to the information that Rollins & Fin found on him. When Avery is questioned by Purcell on the stand, his questioning unsettles her & Purcell tells Avery that she wanted to get pregnant & that he gave the baby that he always wanted.

The jury ends up finding Purcell guilty of stalking, but not of rape. When Barba talks to one of the jurors, he admits that everybody agreed on the legitimate rape argument except for one juror who wasn't ready to given in, so they all cut a deal & decided to settle only for the stalking charge. Avery is upset by the news and then her water breaks & is taken to the hospital.

When Olivia visits Avery at the hospital, Avery has given birth to a baby boy named Theo, but later discovers that Purcell is suing her for custody of the baby. When Barba talks about the issue with Cragen & the SVU squad, he recommends a good lawyer who can help Avery.

At the family court hearing, Avery wins full custody of Theo, but Purcell is given supervised visitation rights once a week which upsets Avery very much. When Purcell waits for Avery at the station for the supervised visit to see his son, Avery doesn't show up.

Avery is shown packing her things, preparing to run away despite Olivia's protests that what she's doing is illegal, but Avery can't think of another way to keep Purcell out of her life. When Olivia returns to the station, she tells Cragen that Avery took off with Theo.

Cragen understand and decides to lie to Purcell that they don't know where Avery and the baby are, but a search is underway. As Cragen leaves to tell Purcell the news, Olivia hints to Nick that she is a product of her mother's rape.


Main CastEdit

Recurring CastEdit

Guest CastEdit


Episode references


Episode quotes

Background information and NotesEdit

  • The title of the episode alludes to the "legitimate rape" argument made by Congressman Fritz Showalter, who is based on real life politician Todd Akin, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives (R-Missouri), who became infamous after making a very similar statement while campaigning against a woman's right to have an abortion if she became pregnant from rape. Like the fictional Showalter, Akin posed the argument that in the event of actual, "legitimate" rape, a woman's body would shut down pregnancy and prevent it from happening, implying that if a woman became pregnant, it was because she consented to the sex. Akin made his statement during his campaign for a United States Senate seat from Missouri. He was trounced in the general election by incumbent Claire McCaskill.

Episode scene cards Edit

1 2 3 4

Sports and Events Network
1273 Avenue of the Americas
Friday, August 17

"Jason's Kids" Annual Benefit
Midtown Lanes
693 8th Avenue
Friday, August 17

Supreme Court
Part 52
Tuesday, February 12

Supreme Court
Part 52
Wednesday, February 13

5 6 7

Supreme Court
Part 52
Friday, February 15

Family Court
Part 21
Wednesday, March 6

Family Court
Part 21
Thursday, March 7

Previous episode:
"Undercover Blue"
"Legitimate Rape"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 14
Next episode:
"Born Psychopath"
Seasons 123456789101112131415161718

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